I used to think of Fort Worth as the older, wiser, more traditional sister city to glossy, trendy, look-at-me Dallas. Then I saw this modern glass house built into a bluff in the Park Hill neighborhood of Fort Worth. I was never quite the same. I know, both our Fort Worth columnists — the taste-meister himself Eric Prokesh, and the bow-tied real estate genius Seth Fowler — gushed over this home. It was all like, “Move over, sister. Fort Worth has arrived.”
Well, we knew Fort Worth arrived years ago. What we didn’t know about this home was the story behind it, a story that I believe will speak loudly for many Dallas tornado victims, as these homeowners are faced with rebuilding homes hit (but not totaled) by the October 20th EF-3 storms. That’s right, this beauty, like any beautiful woman, has a story — a little setback in her past, even a heart once broken. But that certainly did not hold her back.
This gorgeous modern glass house accented in Lueders limestone, steel, and wood not only caught my eye, but it was also on the AIA Fort Worth Homes Tour in May. It has been featured in the Wall Street Journal‘s “Mansion” section and on the cover of 360 West Magazine. If that’s not enough to impress you, the home has been recognized as Best in City Center from the IIDA Texas/Oklahoma chapter and awarded for best work in any city within the region. Let me draw a breath.
I knew there had to be a considerable story behind this modern marvel, so I called up the architect, Michael Bennett with Bennett Benner Partners Architects in Fort Worth. He gave me the inside skinny, and it may make you shed a tear or two.
Bennett and his wife were casual acquaintances with the sellers when their children were growing up. Several years ago, the sellers’ home caught fire. A few days later, they called Bennett and asked if he would design a home for them on the same lot because, despite the tragedy, it’s a magnificent bluff lot with incredible views. It’s also near Texas Christian University, Colonial Country Club, and the Fort Worth Zoo. Location, location, location.
The owners had a few specific requests. The husband is an avid book collector and gardener. Of course, the first edition books he loved were lost in the fire.
“It was a fire that did not burn the house down, but it burned all the things that were flammable,” Bennett said. “For instance, the binding on a book would have been demolished, but the book could still be read. The outside of a cabinet would be burned, but the dishes might be ok on the inside. However, the books smelt like the fire, and he did not want that smell in his house again.”
Moving forward meant purging and creating an architectural phoenix from the ashes.
The first order of business was creating a design that would accommodate a library of up to 6,000 books.
“When you think about how many linear feet of bookshelves that is, you must design the house around the library,” Bennett said. “We realized a two-story library with glass bridges to create connection, would be the best design. The couple also collects aboriginal art from different cultures, so a lot of the house design involved creating a gallery where art and collections can be rotated.”
The resulting design is a two-story, 52-foot long gallery space serving as a visual axis between the front entry and the view in the back. “We put glass on each end,” Bennett said. “When the shades are open, you can get a glimpse through the house and see the art. I think of it as a little gift to the neighborhood.”
Although this modern glass house is 7,130 square feet, it is very much a family home with four bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a powder bath. Another must-have on the design list was to be able to entertain easily because this is a family that loves to entertain and host fundraising events on a relatively large scale. Everything from the lifestyle needs of the family, to the caterers, was carefully considered.
“On the north side, where the driveway is, you can pull up a catering truck and serve through the kitchen,” Bennett said. “There is a scullery, out of sight, that connects between the kitchen and dining room, and a serving bar was designed to serve food and drinks.”
The home is built on a couple of main axes.
“One runs down the gallery, and there is a smaller one in the entry hall to the right to the library and into the dining room, “Bennett said. Then there is another minor axis that connects the kitchen, laundry room, and living room, back to the guest bedroom.”
The downstairs was created with entertaining in mind. It is very much the public space while the upstairs, even though it’s seen from below, provides a lovely private retreat. Note how Bennett tucked in the stairs to create that sense of separation. It’s interesting to find out which part of a home the architect likes best. For Bennett, it’s the upstairs living and seating area.
“It overlooks the gallery, and you have the benefit of the view,” Bennet said. “It’s one of the best spaces in the house.”
Let’s get to that view and the landscaping of this incredible property. Remember I told you the husband is keen on two things, books and gardening. Not just any old gardening mind you. The grounds of the home were featured in the 2019 Hidden Gardens of Fort Worth Tour sponsored by Historic Fort Worth. Before the fire, the gardens were featured on the same tour in 2012.
“We wanted to save certain trees and provide places where he could garden all around the house,” Bennett said.
For instance, the northeast side has a practical kitchen garden, and the back of the home has a scenic garden. Bennett set up lily pad stepping stones on the south side of the house to get to the rear side of the property for events held there, without having to go through the house.
“The one thing people cannot tell from the front of the property is the view,” Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s listing agent Laurie Brants said. “You can see for miles, to River Crest Country Club. The whole west side of Fort Worth can be seen from the property. There is a path from the pool to a waterfall to the bottom of the property. Then you discover an enclosed gazebo that is a serene spot.”
The owners have loved living in this modern glass house, seeing people enjoy it, and having it work the way it was designed to function. I’m certain it’s hard to leave, but of course, life calls us in other directions, and when your kids have grown and flown, it means some lucky person can purchase this utterly magnificent modern glass house.
I want to give you a little design note about the wood you see on the garage, which is called Shou Sugi Ban, and has an interesting context.
“It’s a Japanese burned wood technique,” Bennett said. “It’s basically fireproof. There was beauty in that symbolism.”
If you would like to tour this magnificent modern glass home at 2244 West Winton Terrace, listed for $3.92 million, give Brants a call. I can’t imagine this will last long.
Karen Eubank is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager and writer for over 25 years. Her love of all dogs, international travel, good chocolate, great champagne, and historic homes knows no bounds. Her father was a spy, so she keeps secrets very well!